The Trial of the Pyx

The Yorkshire Numismatic Society     
                                   Present the York Stamp & Coin Fair Lecture
             "The Trial of the Pyx"
   Master Robert Turner, former Queen’s Remembrancer
                         Saturday, 21st January 2012 at 2:00 pm,
    4th floor, The Pavilion, York Racecourse
                        Admission £4, free to YNS members

Image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery.
The Speaker

Master Robert Turner’s personal details are set out in Who's Who. After reading History and Law at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge he was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in 1958. He served for eight years in the Gloucestershire Regiment retiring as a Major. In 1967, he became a pupil in chambers in the Temple and then practised for 17 years at the Common Law Bar becoming the Recorder of Warwick in 1980. In 1984, he became a judge in the High Court, known as a Master of the Supreme Court in the Queen's Bench Division and in 1996 was appointed Senior Master and The Queen's Remembrancer.

 “A superb speaker - enormously entertaining”

The latter, the oldest judicial office in the country, dating from 1164 is a ceremonial role presiding over the Quit Rents Ceremony, the Nomination of High Sheriffs, the Inclosure Commission of the Forest of Dean, the swearing into office of the Lord Mayor of London and the Trial of the Pyx.

Master Turner sat as Queen's Remembrancer and Senior Master retiring in 2007, after 12 years, the longest period the office has been held. He has since held numerous senior public and academic offices. At the Wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Philip Mountbatten in 1947 he sang as a Chorister.

The Trial

The Trial of the Pyx before the Court of Exchequer is England's oldest surviving Trial.  First ordered by Edward I in 1279, it required a sample of the daily output of the Royal Mint to be placed in a chest or Pyx and brought before the Barons of Exchequer and a Jury of the Goldsmiths Company for the oldest quality-control test known. It continues to this day before the last of those Barons, the Queen's Remembrancer and a jury of 26 liverymen of Goldsmiths Company at Goldsmiths Hall.

Master Turner, the Remembrancer from 1996 to 2007, with the aid of the Great Seal of Exchequer, the earliest Trial Plate, the tally sticks, the destruction of which in 1834 burnt down Parliament, a model of the Court and its officials, and original notes on the trials of 17th and 18th centuries, will seek to bring to life the 800 years of this, our oldest Trial.

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